This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for non-passerines
Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.
The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.
Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.
The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 1 of the checklist (for non-passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2014 Red List update, with the remainder, and those for passerines (which will appear in volume 2 of the checklist), to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.
Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.
Great Lizard-cuckoo Coccyzus merlini is being split into C. merlini and C. bahamensis, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).
Prior to this taxonomic change, C. merlini (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Least Concern on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. This species was estimated to have a very large range, and hence did not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence [EOO] of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appeared to be stable, and hence the species did not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
C. bahamensis is endemic to the Bahamas, where it is found on Andros, New Providence, Eleuthera and Harbour Island, and probably occurs in forest, woodland, scrub and abandoned agricultural areas (del Hoyo et al. 1997, Erritzøe et al. 2012). It could potentially qualify as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(i), and possibly B1ab(ii,iii,v), on the basis that the species is likely to have a small population (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals), which is inferred to be in continuing slow decline, but does not conform to a specified subpopulation structure that would render it more susceptible to extinction, and possibly on the basis that it occupies a small range (with an EOO estimated at c.7,400 km2), in which suitable habitat is declining in quality and extent, but is not severely fragmented, although suitable habitats are perhaps unlikely to be very fragmented at present, given the species’s flexibility in habitat use.
C. merlini (as defined following the taxonomic change, and incorporating santamariae and decolor) is found on Cuba and several satellite islands, where it occurs in a similar variety of habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1997, Erritzøe et al. 2012). It is likely to warrant listing as Least Concern, on the basis that it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.
Comments on these suggested categories are invited and further information would be welcomed.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.
Erritzøe, J., Mann, C. F., Brammer, F. P. and Fuller, R. A. (2012) Cuckoos of the World. Helm Identification Guides. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. (2010) Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.